Leaf Cuisine (review + pics)
Every time I tell people who don't live in LA about "Raw Cuisine", I usually get the "Only in California (or LA)" comment. For those of you who don't know specifically what "Raw Cuisine" is, please read on.
A raw food diet consists fully of foods which have not been heated above a certain temperature. The maximum temperature varies among the different forms of the diet, from 92ºF to 118ºF. Raw food diets may include raw fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts, raw seeds, raw unpasteurized dairy products such as raw milk, raw meat, raw eggs, and raw honey. Those who follow a raw food diet typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits
Having never experienced "Raw Dining", I thought that it was time to check out some restaurants that specialize in that kind of non-cooking. :) My first experience happened a couple of weeks ago at Leaf Cuisine in Culver City.
Standing outside the grass-green painted building that housed Leaf Cuisine already made me feel like I was around a more "natural environment." When you walk in, you can see that the restaurant interior boasts of the earth's colors: green, brown, orange. There was just something very soothing about the restaurant space and the laidback vibe, along with the counter person with his orange bandana seemed fitting for what Leaf Cuisine is supposed to be about.
My meal started off with trying a mock salmon nori roll. The salmon was like a creamy pate and in this case was made up of avocado, carrots and sprouts. The roll did have a "salmon" taste to it, but just a taste. I actually think that the carrots lent itself to the sweetness of salmon meat, which is why you "taste" the idea of that salmon without eating the actual salmon. I actually enjoyed these rolls and would order it again if I had a chance.
Following the salmon nori roll, I had the raw slaw which is made up of cabbage, carrots, herbs & a creamy seed cheese dressing. In retrospect, there wasn't anything that unique about this salad. Coleslaw consists of raw veggies anyway. The veggies were great. I really like the crunchiness of this salad; however, the dressing had a vinegary taste and after taste to it that I disliked a lot, so I barely even made a dent in it.
For my main entree, I had the Veggie Sunburger Wrap. First off, I really liked the kale leaf wrapper. The leaf was dense, hearty and had a nice bite to it. The sunburger itself needed a bit more work. According to the menu, the "meat" of this burger should be crispy on the outside due to it having been dehydrated. That crispness was lacking. Now if it had been fried.....but of course, that wouldn't happen at Leaf. As for the flavor, I liked the nuttiness of the veggie burger, but felt like it needed something to crank it up a notch. Not sure what. Just something more.
Dessert was the Oraweo Pudding. Yummy! Now this was a good pudding. The menu mentioned this pudding as being a gooey mess of coconut cream, cacao nibs and chocolate and they weren't kidding, but it was a gooey mess that really took care of my sweet tooth without drowning it.
In general, my foray into "Raw Cusine" wasn't a resounding sucesss, but it wasn't an abject failure either. Generally, it was hit or miss for me at Leaf Cuisine but it may be a homerun somewhere else, so time to check out some more "Raw" restaurants. Any suggestions?
To see pics, go to:
11938 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA, 90066
With all due respect, I absolutely did not enjoy my lunch at Leaf.
I am not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy well-prepared flavorful veg. cooking.
The wrap sandwich I ordered was soggy, dense, grainy and didn't taste like much.
My soup was tepid (I understand that nothing is meant to exceed 118 degrees, but...)
and lacked flavor. The best thing I ordered was my apple/carrot juice.
Oh how I long for a restaurant like Green's (SF) down here in L.A.! until then I'll just keep cooking from Deborah Madison's books.
As someone who actually just loves veggies, all veggies, raw or otherwise, I in general have a problem with vegetarian restaurants that try always to pretend they're serving you meat?! I like meat too, spent many many years not eating it and currently do eat it sparingly but the point is: vegetables are good and sufficient in and of themselves; why pretend as if you're fooling people into thinking they're eating something different? First off, you're not really fooling anyone. Secondly, we should all just get used to the fact that vegetables are really flavorful and tasty and not something to hide from (when flavorless and nasty they've just been prepared wrong, just as, say, meat can be too). period. right. Dismounting from soapbox now.
So given this bias, I've always shied away from Leaf even though it's in my neighborhood because I'm reluctant to support the pretentiousness. Someone once gave me a half of their sandwich from Leaf and I must say it was absolutely delicious; I don't know what it was trying to pretend to be (! maybe "tuna"?). I have noticed the proliferation of these sandwiches in the coolers of lunch pickup spots and noted their very high price. But perhaps it's necessary for the organic veggies within. I do believe the taste is good even if the price is high. Perhaps these commercial tricks, if unaesthetic, are necessary and justifiable as a means to support the admirable end of supporting organic vegetable ingestation.
There is also a really good vegetarian restaurant up in Westwood Village on Gayley on the east side of the street in the middle of the block south of BelAir photo. It's really good and reasonably priced I think with a minimum of pretention, though I believe that's there somewhat too.